Neglected tropical diseases

Combating echinococcosis in China

21 September 2017 | Geneva –– Echinococcosis, including both cystic and alveolar echinococcosis, is a severe zoonotic parasitic disease transmitted in western China. It is estimated that China has the highest burden of echinococcosis worldwide.1,2 Since 2012, large-scale surveys have mapped the endemicity of echinococcosis in China, showing an estimated 50 million people at risk of the disease in nine western provinces, of whom about 0.17 million are infected.3

Herdsmen in Shiqu county (China) – one of the counties highly endemic for echinococcosis in Sichuan province – where ultrasound examination for echinococcosis is planned
© Tian Tian / Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The national echinococcosis control programme (NECP) has intensified its activities since 2005 with the support of the central government of China and has expanded interventions in more endemic counties. For example, the number of people and villagers receiving B ultrasound examination has increased significantly, along with the number of people examined, from 1.52 million in 2011 to 2.13 million in 2014. Between 2010 and 2014, a total of 666 million Chinese Yuan (about 100 million US dollars) were invested to fund NECP activities, of which 87.26% were from the central government.4

In 2016, the National Health and Family Planning Commission published its “Control plan on echinococcosis and other important parasitic diseases from 2016 to 2020”, with the aim of strengthening NECP interventions in the endemic areas. The plan targets a reduction in the number of counties from 168 in 2012 to 104 in 2020, with a prevalence of over 1% in humans or over 5% in domestic dogs.4 The NECP has also developed a strategy integrating transmission source control (focusing on deworming in definitive hosts) with the control of intermediate hosts as well as the detection and treatment of patients.

1 Budke CM, Deplazes, P, Torgerson PR. Global socioeconomic impact of cystic echinococcosis. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12:296–303.
2 Torgerson PR, Keller K, Magnotta M, Ragland N. The global burden of alveolar echinococcosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis.2010;4:e722.
3 Wu WP. Report on the epidemiology and distribution of echinococcosis in China. Zhongguo Dong Wu Bao Jian. 2017;19:7–9 (in Chinese).
4 Wang LY. Report on the “final evaluation of the 12th Five-Years action plan on echinococcosis” and the “13th Five-Years control plan on echinococcosis”. Zhongguo Dong Wu Bao Jian. 2017;19:13–19 (in Chinese).

Ashok Moloo
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